The Royal Club's NATIONAL ACADEMY programme is run by Rhona Martin supported by Brad Askew and complemented by team coaches. Eight teams this season. The whole squad was at The Peak in Stirling this weekend for a training camp. I enjoyed the opportunity yesterday to see them at work, work which involved lectures and on-ice analysis and training.
Scotland's squad structures are not that simple to understand. The sportscotland/Scottish Institute of Sport are responsible for four teams, the so-called 'Elite Squad' (see here). The National Academy was set up to identify those teams who are 'capable of challenging for a place in the Elite Scotland Squad' (here). Rhona, as the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach, is in overall charge of this group and during the season these curlers get support via the Area Institute network.
Then of course there is the Regional Academy, but more of this group next weekend!
I hear that major changes are afoot at the Scottish Institute involving how the coaching of our sport will be structured. Watch this space!
But back to yesterday. Here are a few pics to give a flavour of my visit, and to identify the eight National Academy teams (although I've not attempted to photograph everone). We will watch the progress of these teams with interest this season, at home and abroad. One benefit of your team being in the Academy is the opportunity to play in two competitions overseas. I'll try and keep on top of who is playing where, and how they get on.
Cate Brewster goes over the results of deceleration tests with the Jay McWilliam team of Grant Hardie, Struan Wood and Ian Copland. (L-R: Jay, Ian, Grant and Struan)
Brad Askew in 'official photographer' mode with the Gail Munro team of (L-R) Alison Mather, Kerry Adams-Taylor, Lyndsay Wilson and Gail Munro.
Scottish Junior Champion skip Lauren Gray has a new team this season with Jennifer Dodds at third, Tasha Aitken at second and Caitlin Barr as lead.
Coaches Trevor Dodds, Susan Kesley and Allan Hannah in a video analysis class with Kenny More.
Hannah Fleming (above) is back this season with the same team as last - Rebecca Kesley, Alice Spence and Abi Brown. This pic from a short three-end game against the McWilliam team.
Duncan Fernie, David Edwards, Richard Woods and Colin Campbell are a new lineup this season. That's Duncan throwing, with Richard and Colin.
Greig Henderson is coach to the John Penny team of Colin Dick, Colin Howden and Billy Morton. (L-R: Billy, Colin D, Colin H, John)
Anna Sloan (above) will skip Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams and Rhiann Macleod in women's competitions this season. Anna, Vicki and Rhiann will also join Eve Muirhead for some junior events and for another tilt at the Scottish Junior Championship.
Ally Fraser (above), the current Scottish Junior Champ, will skip Blair Fraser, Thomas Sloan and Kerr Drummond this season.
Maybe this one should be the caption competition pic! Rhona is in earnest conversation with coach (and RCCC Director) Trevor Dodds.
What a marvellous training facility The Peak is, and not just because of the ice pad.
Yes, the new curling season is definitely underway!
Photos © Skip Cottage